An investigative report out of Brazil has found that Zara‘s Brazilian suppliers contracted with factories which subjected workers to hazardous “slave-like” working conditions and employed at least one girl aged 14.
According to Repórter Brasil, who broke the story, and Made in Brazil (who translated the report), AHA Indústria e Comércio de Roupas Ltda., a supplier that Zara uses to contract with factories to produce their garments in Brazil, has been under investigation by São Paulo’s Bureau of Labor and Employment since May. The Bureau of Labor and Employment found that 52 people were working in unsafe and unsanitary conditions at at one of the factories contracted by AHA Indústria to produce pants for Zara Brazil. Workers were made to work 16-hour shifts in windowless factories, earning only between R$274 and R$460 a month (that’s $170 to $286), which is below Brazil’s minimum wage of R$545 ($339) .
In another inspection, a 14-year-old girl was found working “under slave-like conditions” at another factory in São Paulo contracted by AHA Indústria for Zara.
Made in Brazil reports that 91% of of AHA Indústria’s production was contracted by Zara Brazil and that AHA was in direct contact with Zara’s headquarters in Spain, sending them samples for approval.
Zara has been charged with 52 infractions by the Ministry of Labor and Employment in Brazil. Fiscal auditor Giuliana Cassiano Orlandi, who is involved in the investigation, told Repórter Brasil that Zara “should be responsible for all of its suppliers, and it is a duty of the company to be aware of how its merchandise is being produced.” The report also suggests that there are 30 other factories with similar working conditions producing for Zara in Brazil.
Inditex, the group that owns Zara, has issued a statement in which they deny knowledge that their supplier, AHA AHA Indústria, contracted with factories that employed workers illegally. “This action goes against Inditex’s Code of
Conduct and the company has zero tolerance for infringements of this kind,” the release states. “This case constitutes a grave infringement of the Inditex Code of Conduct for External Manufacturers and Workshops, a code with which this supplier was contractually obligated to comply with. The Code of Conduct stipulates the requirements with which all suppliers, whether direct or subcontracted, must comply, and aims to safeguard workers’ rights to the fullest extent.”
Zara has since taken action to “immediately rectify the situation.”
Read the full release: